Photo courtesy of Jeff Pierson.
Bluff Park Art Show
Hank Simpson is a clay artist who participates in the Bluff Park Art Show.
As show chairs Jeff Pierson and Cathy Wheeler prepare for the 52nd Annual Bluff Park Art Show, they’re expecting crowds of 8,000 to 10,000 visitors.
“We have so many patrons coming who were brought to the show by their parents or grandparents, and now they are bringing their children,” Pierson said. “The show has a national reputation, but because we are a one-day show, we generally draw [artists] from the Southeast and Midwest primarily.”
This year, the art show will be held on Oct. 3 in Shades Cliff Park, colloquially known as Bluff Park, at 517 Cloudland Drive. It will feature the original work of 140 artists. The free event invites visitors to examine displays throughout the park, talk with the artists and purchase pieces.
Donations are accepted at bluffparkartassociation.org, and proceeds are placed in the Endowment Fund dedicated to help fund future philanthropy.
“I expect this [year’s] show to be a continuation of a long line of successful shows uniting artists, patrons, volunteers,and art lovers,” Pierson said.
Originally, a group of mothers, many of whom were artists, founded the Art Association and organized the show to raise funds to equip the Bluff Park Elementary School library. The show has since been hosted annually and the association has become a nonprofit with several philanthropic efforts.
“Suburban life often lacks in the availability of easy access to the arts,” Pierson said. “The show is an asset for the city due to the nature of the show and the reputation it has garnered over the years as a show of great quality and integrity.”
For artists, the art show is a juried show, with a rotating membership for the jury. Interested artists of all ages must apply and submit three examples of their work at juriedartservices.com. A panel of jurors then blindly examines the submissions, voting strictly on the quality of the images, and narrows down the artists to invite to the actual show.
Categories span across almost every medium, including clay, painting, multi-media in 2D and 3D, sculpture, woodworking, printmaking, photography, metalworking, fiber, jewelry, glass, graphite and pastel. If artists wish to exhibit work in more than one category, they must apply and be juried into the show for each specific category.
“This will be my third year participating in the show; however, I have attended the show for the past 30 years,” artist Sherri Van Pelt said. “[This year,] my work is in kiln-formed glass. I did a collaborative piece with 90 children at Vacation Bible School at Southminster Presbyterian Church. It is in the kiln as we speak. The piece is a gift for a young girl who recently had a heart transplant.”
“I will be showcasing jewelry. I was inspired by my late cousin, Edgar Grant, [who was a] Holocaust survivor and an incredibly strong and gentle man,” said Barbara Dollar, who has participated for five years. “I make most pieces using antique sterling silver spoons, vintage pocket and wrist watch cases and copper sheet.”
Five-year participant Brittany Carol Moore will be showing artwork created by transferring photos onto stained glass. The pieces of glass she uses were formerly part of the windows in Kimberly Church of God, which was hit by a tornado passing through Kimberly in spring 2014. The glass was recovered from the rubble and is “now taking on new life and purpose.”
“I love for people to make their own stories about my work. I may have my own idea about it, but countless interpretations are possible as most of my images have a surreal quality,” Moore said.
In the future, the Bluff Park Art Show is planned to further surpass its 52nd year. Pierson credits the city, school system, donors and volunteers for the show’s long-running success.
“We are proud that the show has touched so many people and exposed them to original art and the artists who create it,” Pierson said.